Sermon Text: Be Careful What you Wish For

Proper 27A: Be Careful What you Wish For

  1. We’ve all heard the adage be careful what you wish for you just might get it
    1. Keep that in mind…Men we all know that come birthday or anniversary time we’re easy to buy for but we also know that it can be tricky buying for your wife
      1. There was a man who forgot his anniversary – I know something none of you do – needless to say he was in the doghouse
      1. His wife said that the only way to redeem himself was to get her a really nice anniversary gift, what she’d always wanted, “When I go to work tomorrow I want to see something sitting in the driveway that will do 0-200 in 6 seconds.”
      1. Next day she went out and found a gift wrapped box in the driveway and when she opened it up she found a bathroom scale!
      1. The husband’s funeral was the next day.
    1. We know we have to be careful what we wish for because what we get isn’t always as good as it seemed
      1. That’s what we see in our OT lesson as well – Israel at the time of Amos was prosperous and not threatened by enemies
      1. Their success had made them conceited and apathetic, they were convinced that they were God’s children because of the promises to Abraham
      1. They wore a religious veneer that looked very sincere
      1. And they thought they were ready to meet the Lord
    1. But the Lord chastised them through Amos saying, Woe to you who desire the day of the LORD! Why would you have the day of the LORD? It is darkness, and not light, – in effect, Be careful what you wish for, you just might get it!
      1. They thought that the Lord would be pleased with their worship; they were doing the right things but for all the wrong reasons
      1. They were going to Temple, making sacrifice, observing feasts but it was all a pretense and the Lord knew it!
      1. As He says, I hate, I despise your feasts, and I take no delight in your solemn assemblies. Even though you offer me your burnt offerings and grain offerings, I will not accept them; and the peace offerings of your fattened animals, I will not look upon them.
      1. Earlier in the book the Lord spoke His judgment against Israel because He knew what was really in their hearts, For the transgressions of Israel…I will not revoke the punishment, because they sell the righteous for silver, and the needy for a pair of sandals, who trample the head of the poor…and turn aside the way of the afflicted; a man and his father go in to the same girl, so that my holy name is profaned; they lay themselves down beside every altar
    1. They were relying on their own empty ritual and performance rather than truly living by faith
      1. They thought that their religiosity covered for their lack of love and disobedience to the commandments
      1. But the Lord condemned their sham faith because they were making their own path to righteousness, not the path the Lord had laid out
  2. We live in an era surrounded by people like OT Israel; a time when many people are looking for an experience with the Divine, but be careful what you wish for
    1. Spirituality (not religion) is at a high, people are convinced that they can forge their own path to God relying on their own sincerity
      1. Look at the number of self-help books and spiritualists who (for a fee) will put you in touch with the divine spark within you.
      1. A path to God without having to have all of the formality like attending church or believing that the Bible is THE Word of God.
      1. We find many people who believe that they are free to approach God on our own terms in whatever manner they think is good and right rather that how He has revealed it to us through the Bible.
    1. And Satan loves it when we separate ourselves from the Word of God, we become easy prey, easy to manipulate, easy to destroy
      1. His favorite question still rings true today, “Did God really say?”
      1. Our society is quite pleased with itself for stamping out things like plastic bag usage, large sodas, tobacco use, etc
      1. Those things might be good, but we can’t think to ourselves, “Won’t God be pleased with us for what we’ve done?”
      1. But these are a sham just like Israel’s sham worship, a veneer that covers the same kind of injustices that Amos talked about the continued inequalities experienced by so many, the violence, abortion, and the disregard for life.
  3. But Our Lord told the Israelites through Amos, But let justice roll down like waters, and righteousness like an ever-flowing stream.
    1. What does God really desire? That we would know Him through the One that He sent to save us, His Son Jesus Christ.
      1. It’s not enough to go to Temple, offer sacrifices, etc – God doesn’t require that we just play the part.
      1. If the Israelites had truly believed in God, if they truly knew Him, they would through faith naturally do His will which would result in true good works of mercy, justice, and love.
      1. Centuries later, Jewish crowds that had gathered around Jesus in John 6 and challenged Him with the question, “What must we do to be doing the works of God?” (Jn 6:28)
      1. Our Lord responded, “This is the work of God that you believe in Him whom He sent.” (Jn 6:29)
    1. Our heavenly Father sent His Son to bear our sins on the cross, to live a perfect life and die and innocent death in our place so that through faith in Him we would be saved that is the work of God.
      1. You dare not approach our God with anything else other than the righteousness that He has provided through His Son.
      1. All of our other works, that we are wont to trust, come out of true faith – for without faith it is impossible to please God (Heb. 11:6)
      1. As Isaiah says, “We have all become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous deeds are like filthy rags.” (Isa 64:6)
      1. Or as our Lord said in the Sermon on the Mount, “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?’ And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.’ (Mat 7:21-23)
    1. Many have deluded themselves into believing that they are somehow pleasing to God by virtue of something other than faith in Christ, they may even look forward to seeing the Day of the Lord, but be careful what you wish for
      1. Because when that last day comes the only question that will count for anything is, “What did you believe about my Son?”
      1. When we respond back in faith, “He is my Lord and Savior!” we will finally receive that for which we have wished – everlasting life in His presence with all of those we love who have passed before us in faith.
Pinnacle Lutheran Church
Pinnacle Lutheran Church